Glenda McDougall, 46, Perth, WA
Spotting the email in my inbox, my heart fluttered. Why’s he contacting me after all this time? I wondered, clicking open the message.
It was 20 years since I’d last seen Pete. But, reading his name, it felt like yesterday.
Pete, now 45, and I had worked together for seven years when we’d been in our early twenties.
I always thought of him as the one that got away. Despite my best attempts, Pete had never seemed interested and eventually I’d moved away.
So what was an email from him doing in my inbox now?
Reading it quickly, he was just saying hello and asking how I was doing.
A message from an old friend was innocent enough, but it stirred something in me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Excitement...
Maybe there was something between us? Perhaps Pete had always thought of me as I’d thought of him?
But as I imagined us together, my heart sank.
Even if he had liked me, he wouldn’t anymore, I thought remembering my bulky 150 kilo frame.
When I’d known Pete in my twenties, I’d been a slim size eight. Feeling unhappy and regretful after we’d parted ways, I’d turned to food for comfort, piling on the weight.
At 164cm, I was morbidly obese and my ugly size-26 clothes hung off me, making me look older than I was.
'I can never let Pete see me like this,' I panicked.
And that’s how I left it for a while...
But the more I thought about him, the more I wanted to meet up with him.
I’d been married since we’d first met but my relationship had crumbled and now I felt too fat to go on a date with someone new.
I’ll just have to do something about my weight, I decided suddenly. I’d tried the Jenny Craig diet years earlier, and I vowed to give it another go.
With a new sense of determination, I met with a consultant.
Stepping on the scales was no surprise. I weighed in at 150 kilos.
I knew what I’d done to myself. Snacking on chips, ice-cream, fizzy drinks and eating huge portions of my favourite meals meant I was much bigger than I should be.
But now I was really motivated to change.
As well as eating prepacked, calorie-controlled meals, like shepherd’s pie and tortellini pasta, I was advised to do some exercise.
Because of my weight my knees were very painful, so I started with some low-impact walking on a treadmill.
I could only do 10 minutes before I was completely puffed out, but as the weeks went on I gradually got better.
Messaging Pete, we started up a friendship again but there was one thing I never mentioned. My weight.
So we just kept messaging and in between our emails, I continued my health kick.
Over the next six months, incredibly, I shed 30 kilos. It was only then, in June 2012, that I mustered up the courage to finally suggest a meeting with Pete.
'I’m a bit heavier than when we last met,' I warned him, embarrassed.
But I needn’t have worried. As I nervously knocked on the door of his house, just a 40-minute drive from my own, he opened it with a beaming smile.
He looked just as I remembered – and the connection was still there too.
‘I can’t believe it’s you,’ he laughed, hugging me. ‘It’s been far too long.’
As we chatted easily, our talk turned to romance.
‘I’ve never married, as nobody ever measured up to you,’ he admitted.
I couldn’t believe it!
‘I always liked you but didn’t think you felt the same,’ I laughed.
When we said goodbye, I knew this time it wouldn’t be for 20 years. In fact, I saw Pete a few days later – and, within two weeks, we were an item and I’d moved in!
‘You don’t even care about my weight,’ I sighed, amazed.
Pete shrugged. ‘I love you.’
Despite his acceptance, I’d started on a journey that I didn’t want to end. So when Pete proposed to me just six months later, I decided that there was no way I was going to be a fat bride.
With his support, I kept up my diet – happily losing 38 more kilos in time for our wedding in December 2013.
It was the best day of my life. Not only was I marrying the man of my dreams but I was wearing a beautiful white gown in a size 16. I felt like a princess.
‘You deserve it love,’ my mum, Sylvia, 74, cried.
She and my dad, Ken, 74, were so proud of me and everyone was in raptures about my incredible romance.
I was still on cloud nine after the wedding – so I persevered and lost a final seven kilos. With that weight gone, I reached my goal of 75 kilos and a size 10-12 in May 2014.
By then, I was walking over an hour a day, my knees were better and the days of feeling sluggish and tired were gone.
‘I feel amazing,’ I grinned to Pete.
Of course I’m sad that we didn’t find each other sooner, but it’s better late than never.
Pete has given me my life back. Because of his love I’ve lost half my body weight – yet feel like twice the woman!
Pete, 45, says:
It’s the biggest regret of my life that I didn’t ask Glenda out when we first knew each other.
Even now it makes me sad to know how much of each other’s lives we’ve missed out on.
When we first met up, I didn’t care about her weight but, of course, I supported her when she wanted to diet.
We’ve got a long and happy life to live together now and we both want to make the most of every minute.